UK says climate change security threat, wants UNSC debate

Published: Tuesday 15 May 2007

the first-ever debate on climate change in the un Security Council evinced strong protests from developing nations. The proposal by the uk asked for a discussion on climate change in the council since it posed a security threat.

uk's foreign secretary Margaret Beckett, who chaired the 15-member body meeting on April 17, 2007, in New York, argued that climate change had the potential to cause wars and the debate needs to move from the fringe to the Security Council, the most powerful un body. "An unstable climate will exacerbate some of the core drivers of conflict--such as migratory pressures and competition for resources," said Beckett.Drought and crop failure could intensify competition for food, water and energy while economic destruction could be comparable to the World War ii or the great depression, she added.
Support Most industrial nations like the us, European countries and Japan supported the proposal. "The developing world, we and others, must deal with the issue in a manner that it does not affect growth and development," said acting us ambassador Alejandro Wolff. Japan's un Ambassador Kenzo Oshima also showed his support: "In the foreseeable future, climate change may well create conditions or induce circumstances that could precipitate or aggravate international conflicts."

Peru, Panama and some Pacific Island states also supported the proposal. "The dangers that small island states and their populations face from climate change are no less serious than those nations threatened by guns and bombs," said Robert Guba Aisi, ambassador, Papua New Guinea.

Italy endorsed un secretary-general Ban Ki-moon's proposal to create a new environmental organisation to co-ordinate climate change.
Opposition China out rightly opposed the proposal. "The Security Council has neither the professional competence in handling climate change nor is it the right decision making body since it lacks extensive participation," said China's deputy ambassador Liu Zhenmin. Russia, Qatar, Indonesia and South Africa, among others, also rejected the proposal claiming the council was not a place to take concrete actions. Most saw this as a ploy by developed nations to eventually force developing nations to take up mandatory emission cuts.

Pakistan, as head of g-77 group that represents 132 developing nations including China, opposed uk's proposal saying that the debate encroached and compromised the mandate of more democratic bodies like the 192-member un General Assembly.

India opposed the proposal saying the only appropriate forum for discussing issues related to climate change was the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change. India rejected it on technical grounds saying the catastrophic scenarios resulting from climate change have not been calibrated with certainty. "The Stern report cites Richard Nordhaus extensively. Neither he not Stern have been able to overcome uncertainty and the difficulty of calibrating catastrophic scenarios," said Nirupam Sen, India's permanent representative to the un Security Council.Hence, the possible consequences of climate change in terms of border disputes, migration, energy supplies, societal stress and the like could neither be specified nor be discussed in a meaningful manner, Sen added.

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